Throughout the years many survey methods have been used and each and every one of them has their own benefits. But unfortunately they also share one major disadvantage: people don’t have much freedom to decide when they want to answer poll questions and this has given filling out surveys a somewhat boring and dreadful reputation. Most respondents are not exactly enthusiastic when someone unexpectedly rings the doorbell or calls them on the phone to ‘answer a few quick questions.’ Similarly, when people receive a questionnaire through traditional mail, they are likely to think it’s too much trouble to send it back once they filled it out.Online surveys are definitely a major improvement, as respondents can decide when they feel like answering a poll. But they still have to be in front of a computer and have access to Internet to answer the questions.
This last disadvantage can be easily avoided by launching polls through a mobile survey application.
Over the past few years, the number of smart device users (especially iOS) has increased rapidly, turning them into the perfect survey panel. After the smart device owners download the mobile survey app, they can answer any poll that’s been made available to them.
As most smart devices have their own Internet connection, it is no longer necessary for people to be in front of a computer with Internet access or to be close to a wireless hotspot. By using their smart devices, respondents can answer polls while waiting to board a plane, while they’re on the bus, subway or train to and from work and so on and so forth.
The fact that they can fill out surveys when they have time to kill makes it much more appealing for respondents to co-operate.
Instead of having to take the time to fill out a survey, answering the questions now becomes a fun way to pass the time that would otherwise be spent waiting and maybe doing nothing.
Using the same app, market researchers can also create polls on their mobile device while they have some free time on their hands.
They can ask users from all around the world to answer their questions, or they can focus on one or more countries. With the right settings, they can also select their respondents based on gender, income, age or profession.
Once the target group has been established, market researchers can add different types of questions (open text, single or multiple answer selection, scales…) as well as dependencies and then submit the poll. Once a poll has been closed, the results should be sent to the person who created it in an easy-to-analyze format, such as an Excel file.
This way, the market researchers can make their own analyses by filtering by region, country, gender, age, income, etc.
Aside from the fact that it is an easy way to get opinions from people all over the world, it’s also the fastest way to get results. Through our mobile survey application NPolls, a worldwide poll usually closes within 24 hours of being launched to 6,000 respondents.
This high success rate is due to the fact that it is possible to send out push notifications to the people who downloaded the app, every time a new poll has been launched. An additional benefit of mobile surveys is that people who answered the poll are able to see the general results afterwards.
This creates a sense of community among the panel, as they can compare their own results to those of the other users.
One thing, however, that market researchers who are using mobile survey applications must be careful about is the selection of an application. In order for the panel to answer to the polls, the user interface has to be self-explanatory and easy-to-use.
The application has to be user friendly for the market researchers themselves as well. Creating a poll should be quick and easy, not complicated and frustrating because the platform is not clear. Furthermore, the results should also be delivered to the market researcher in a format that is compatible with a statistical analysis program, such as SPSS.
Another important feature that should be available is the possibility of creating a personalized private polling system by licensing the application’s platform. This can be important for companies or political parties, for instance, who want to connect with their customers or voters but who do not want to launch standard polls to specific countries or regions.
The image below is an example of what a mobile survey application can look like. In April of this year we launched a poll about the upcoming Euro 2012 soccer tournament in Poland and Ukraine and 5,000 people from all across the world weighed in on the matter.
On the left you can see what a poll looks like while respondents are answering it, and on the right you can see what it looks like when they finished answering it.
After they answered the poll, respondents get to see the results of that same poll in real time. They do not have to wait until the poll has closed, but they can check how the results progress over time.
This method of survey research is becoming increasingly popular and more and more market researchers are starting to see the numerous benefits.
Creating a poll takes about 30 minutes and you can reach thousands of people from across the world within 24 hours after launching it.
The fact that respondents can answer on their mobile device when they have time to kill makes it enjoyable rather than burdensome and being able to see the results of the poll they just answered makes it more interesting for the respondents.
As more and more people start buying smart devices, mobile survey applications are very likely to become the survey method that is used most often in the (near) future.